Bihar: Has Paswan lost his revolutionary zeal and love for Dalits? 

Had he been a man of principle––at least on the issue of secularism as he claims––he would not have jumped on to the Modi bandwagon on the eve of 2014 Lok Sabha poll and once again become a minister?

PTI photo
PTI photo
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Soroor Ahmed

While Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale, who is the leader of the Republican Party of India, announced that his party would approach the Supreme Court against recent orders directing the media to refrain from using the expression, Dalit, and instead use the constitutional term, the Scheduled Castes, it remains to be seen how another Union Minister and Lok Janshakti Party supremo Ram Vilas Paswan reacts.

This question is very pertinent as Ram Vilas had in 1983 floated Dalit Sena, the outfit which his brother Ram Chandra Paswan, also a party MP, now heads. Will it be renamed as Scheduled Castes Sena on the lines of Scheduled Castes Federation founded by Bhimrao Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian Constitution?

Curiously, Ram Vilas is yet to come out against the Centre’s directive even when the Bharatiya Janata Party’s own MP, Udit Raj, has opposed it.

Mind it Ram Vilas is among the oldest living politician belonging to this social group. While he had jumped from one party to another in the last 49 years of electoral politics and formed LJP in 2000 he continued to nurse Dalit Sena since its inception. He founded Dalit Sena when he was considered as a fire-brand leader of the socially weakest section of the society in North India and Kanshi Ram had not come up with Bahujan Samaj Party then. The foundation of Dalit Panthers in Maharashtra in 1972 might have inspired him to form this organisation.

Thirty-five years down the memory lane Ram Vilas, who entered Lok Sabha in the post-Emergency election in 1977, appears to have lost much of his revolutionary zeal and fighting capability. It is alleged that he wants to remain stuck to power and can go to make all sorts of compromises.

Though he had always claimed that he was the minister who left the Vajpayee government in April 2002, to protest against the Gujarat riots which had actually started two months before he quit, yet the truth lies somewhere else. He had resigned only after the BJP decided to back Mayawati form the government in Uttar Pradesh after the Assembly election. Ram Vilas never liked any proximity between the BJP and BSP as he has always thought that the emergence of the latter had led to his political marginalisation in North India. He joined hands with the Congress before the 2004 parliamentary election and became Union minister once again.

Had he been a man of principle––at least on the issue of secularism as he claims––he would not have jumped on to the Narendra Modi bandwagon on the eve of 2014 Lok Sabha poll and once again become a minister?

Political observers are of the view that he is still weighing his options and may desert the National Democratic Alliance if the BJP fares badly in coming Assembly election in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Then he would take this very excuse of Centre’s directive on the issue of Dalit to part ways as he did in 2002.

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